Covered with Cacti

Saguaro, Carnegiea Gigantica

Saguaro, Carnegiea Gigantica

 

Arizona has more cacti than any other state!  Of course, there is more to Arizona flora than cacti.  However, what a wonderful distinction to have.  The iconic Saguaro is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, and a small area of California. The Saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona.

Our arid climate has led to wonderful adaptive plants that flourish here. Cacti quickly store the scant rainfall in their thick stems for the drought i
YFperiods.  Most cacti have fleshy stems that expand and shrink according to the water stored inside.  The stems are green, so cacti photosynthesize even though their leaves have adapted to become spines.  The spines protect the waxy flesh from predators such as birds, ground squirrels and rabbits. Desert birds nevertheless build their nests in cacti such as the Cholla and the Saguaro.

Here is a selection of  additional cacti that you may encounter on an Arizona trip.

Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii.

Teddy Bear Cholla, Cylindropuntia bigelovii.

Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus

Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus

Prickly Pear,  Opuntia engelmannii

Prickly Pear, Opuntia engelmannii

Mammillaria Grahamii

Mammillaria Grahamii

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii

Hedgehog Cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii

Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus

Barrel Cactus, Ferocactus

Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa

Buckhorn Cholla, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa

Prickly Pear, Opuntia Engelmanii

Prickly Pear, Opuntia Engelmanii

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Botanical gardens are worth a visit if you want to see Arizona’s many cacti species.  Here are some of my personal favorites: In the Phoenix area: Desert Botanical Garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum In the Tucson area: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum,

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